December 1, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Josiah and I walked through the entrance to Wal-mart laden with return items—a couple of crock-pots, a coffee grinder and a pair of jeans—from the family’s shopping spree on Black Friday. “We have half a million returns,” I smiled apologetically at the lady stickering returns. “I only count four,” Josiah commented dryly. The lady tossed us a sympathetic smile. “That’s all right,” she said, taking the first box from my arms. “When I got married…”

Of course, getting us to Wal-mart required effort. People are like the clocks of old—some run more quickly than others. I’d warned Josiah we were leaving at eight. Right after breakfast and chores. Eight o’clock rolled around and I walked out the door, purse slung over my arm, keys in hand. I opened the garage door myself. I loaded all the returns into the back of the pick-up. Then I backed the vehicle out of the garage and sat waiting. And waiting. And waiting. It’s a funny thing, this waiting business. Seems like my whole life has been spent waiting. Papa used to be the timely one. The first one in the car waiting on the rest of us. Soon I learned to be out the door as soon as he hollered “Let’s go!” Now I’m the one who waits in the car for everyone else. Even Papa gave up on being out early. I get supper on early, call everyone and wait. While the food grows cold. We make plans to start projects at a specified time and I emerge from my den and wait. While everyone else leisurely finishes up whatever they were doing when the deadline rolled around. I wait for others to finish their tasks so I can do mine. Sometimes I just do both because I get tired of waiting. This morning as I sat in the truck, waiting, I could feel the tendons in my neck growing tighter and tighter. I have a schedule, you know, Josiah. It’s planned out perfectly so we can get everything done perfectly. You know we have a lot to get done, Josiah. And we’ve got to get started on time, you know, Josiah. Josiah, I did tell you what time we needed to leave? How long ago did I holler “Let’s go”? How long have I been waiting? Why is my whole life filled with people who keep me waiting?!

Then, as if they sun had burst through the foggy clouds, came my moment of truth. Uh, duh, Abigail. You’re life is filled with waiting because you still haven’t become good at it. And Yahweh knows that practice makes perfect.

I managed to make it to the Doctor's on time. And then we appeared at the home of Miss Judy and Amber to finish much of the work which we had begun, making their apartment a home. The pictures hanging on the walls and the curtains in the windows add so much warmth and coziness to that little abode. Josiah and I were on a mission today to hang a couple of shelves in Amber’s room—and string up some curtains—lime green, tied back with purple ribbons and a sheer overlay of silver stars. Makes me think of pickle and jelly sandwiches smothered in fairy dust. It matched the rest of her room perfectly. But we didn’t finish on schedule. Quite. “Are you almost done?” I demanded as Emily called, wondering if we were going to make it for lunch. We finished our work in a flurry and made a mad dash for the pick-up and on to campus. And we made it. Barely.

Then, as predictably as the tide, we were back out and on the road home. I still had to clean the Ware’s. I try to make a racket coming in and holler “knock, knock” in case Travis is still home. As soon as I stepped in, I noticed the dark form of a head and shoulder slumped over the couch. Great. He was sleeping. I hate trying to figure out how to wake sleeping people without scaring them. For me, the slightest noise sends me bounding from bed, but I've developed a reputation for sneaking up on people--accidentally. Travis had slept through my vacuuming before. I cleaned the back bathroom and came back out into the living room. There he still reposed. But just then Josiah called. “Hey,” I whispered. “Come over here. Travis is asleep on the couch and I don’t want to scare him.” After all he was an Air Force courier in active combat. No telling what he’d do if threatened. Plus, he just had heart surgery. Josiah arrived post-haste and walked straight up to the snoozing form, scooped it up and displayed his find. “Here’s Travis,” he announced, holding up a black hooded sweatshirt.

It was late when I talked to Jacinda. But later still when we finally hung up as I drooped in a near-slumber posture. I’ve heard others accuse her of not talking. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t talk, but the world is full of people who don’t listen. They assume that those who won’t compete with them simply can’t talk. Jacinda is a wealth of interesting thought-patterns and lovely revelations. Some find her harsh, but she’s at least as harsh on herself as she is on anyone else. She always seeks to speak truth and she proclaims her own faults with more fervor than she ever would anyone else’s. She’s quick to challenge herself and her attitudes and even quicker to seek the Lord in all things. So I let her talk. I love to hear her vent. She says she hates journaling, but when she talks to me I hear her heartbeat as she works through issues, sorts out her feelings, digs for the truth and finally triumphs. “I don’t talk to anyone else like I do you,” she told me, and I grew warm all over. Even if I needed two-by-fours to prop my eyelids open, her words permeated my mind and sent a smile shivering all over my body. Maybe she is struggling with the shallowness of the girls at training. Maybe she is struggling with developing deeper relationships and feeling like others won't open up to her. But I love hearing it all, because that’s the thread of feeling running through Jacinda’s heart. And I feel privileged to reach out and touch it. People don’t realize what they are missing when they don’t listen. The first warbled notes of a fledgling sparrow, proclaiming the Creator’s genius. The veiled tears behind the standard, “fine, thank you, how are you?” The wonder and delight of a child touching an animal. The hesitation in a voice that wishes you would ask more. The heart throb of one of God’s precious children—that only He hears with perfect clarity. In this vast world, I am privileged to hear a tiny bit of what He hears. And all of it is important to Him.

I listen to His creation, but how often do I listen to Him? In those moments between perfect scheduling and frustration, while I wait for that person who is chronically late or wonder when this important event will finally come to pass, my own thoughts clamor for my attention, ranting and raging and railing on the one who keeps me waiting. Forgetting that it’s actually One who keeps me waiting. Because nothing gets off of His schedule. And I forget to tune my heart to hear the subtle truths He would teach me through my frustrations, through my circumstances, through my surroundings. That singing bird is a work of His genius—it trusts Him entirely for every breath it takes, for every moment it flies through the glorious air. He keeps me waiting because He would have me ready—not to do a host of all-important things, but to listen. To hear His voice in the quiet moments of meditation, when He gently reminds me of the truth of His word.

Lord, aren’t Thou, who made the ear
Worth the time it takes to hear?
Thou who spoke the final word,
Must forevermore be heard.

Teach me such an attitude
To listen, with my heart renewed
To hear whatever Thou might say
And hearing, hasten to obey.

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